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King Henry VIII knew my grandfather

August 29, 2013

Introduction A year or two back, my younger daughter gave me a present, 'Dear Dad, from you to me' , one of those gift shop gifts which are very well intentioned, but, alas, time is so short that they can often gather dust and never be completed. I decided a while ago that I wouldn't let this happen, and would aim to complete it for Sophie, Alice and Tom, so whenever they want to, they could find out a bit more about their Dad. So, I have set up a private blog, to which only family have access, and have been posting to it during and since our summer 2013 holidays. Many of these postings are personal, and best kept private for the family only, but those which are less private will also be posted on my main blog.

King Henry VIII knew my grandfather

Well, no he didn't. But my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather (thank you to the inventor of copy/paste), that's my G^15 grandfather, might have known him.

Some time around the end of 2010 I got interested in family history: or, rather, infected by the genealogy bug. I had toyed on and off with knowing more about my ancestors, missed the chance to ask my mother before she died, and kept putting off asking my father. Then, one day I had to re-connect my computer to the Internet, and, once I thought everything was working, I put my younger daughter's name into google, and, bang!, that was it. Someone by the name of Judith Elam had posted Jane's family tree onto the Internet, and there I was, married to Jane née Bookbinder.

I contacted Judith, who turns out to be a distant relative of Jane: she lives in Hawaii and has spent many years researching the Bookbinder family, including making trips to what are now Poland and Russia. I was able to help Judith somewhat with some of the more recent pieces of Jane's jigsaw, but then I had to look at mine.

I will do several postings about our family history. For about six months or so it was all-consuming of my free time (that is, it took over even from chess); but once done, it has been just a very occasional thing for the last few years. Once you get as far as you can (in my case, until what follows, to the late eighteenth century- generally, for most people of English heritage, you can get back to people alive at the first proper census in 1841).

In particular, having signed up to various websites like and you occasionally get automatic emails 'possible matches' or 'new information', all of which I have ignored for years, since they are rarely interesting. Once or twice a year I also get more specific emails, where other genealogists ask for help with parts of their tree which appear to be on the Beardsworth/Bookbinder one: such requests I always help with, in the same way that Judith helped me.

On Tuesday, it was my son's 20th birthday, and, for some reason, when I saw a 'possible matches' alert in my inbox, I chose to look at it. Ten minutes later, I has extended my bloodline back to 1510, to my G15 grandfather, John Bulcock.

Someone had made a link, and he/she or others had been to various parish churches/county record offices [in the pecking order of genealogists, I am a mere low-life: computer only, no hunting through archives]. A few clicks later, and my tree was about three hundred years longer than it was before.

Barely nothing is known about the Bulcocks: but it is fairly clear that they were moneyed, partly because of the fact that for some of them precise dates of birth, death, marriage are known; later, they married into a family called Hey, which had a coat of arms, and then into another clearly moneyed family the Whipps, previously called Quipps.

Alas, a Whipp-ette seems to have had a child out of wedlock, and alas, the money has gone long before the name became Beardsworth.


John's life covered all of Henry VIII's six wives, and Mary's and most of Elizabeth I's reigns. Of course, in reality it is meaningless, but on the other hand, it is nice to think there are six eighteen degrees of separation between me and Henry VIII's time.


From → Family

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